- "I know we are going to take a very long road, into darkness; but I know I can't turn back. It isn't to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want – I don't rightly know what I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire."
- —The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Shortcut to Mushrooms"
Samwise Gamgee, known as Sam, was a hobbit of the Shire. He was Frodo Baggins' gardener and best friend. Sam proved himself to be Frodo's closest and most dependable companion, the most loyal of the Fellowship of the Ring, and played a critical role in protecting Frodo and destroying the One Ring.
- "The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t."
- —The Two Towers, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol"
Sam was the youngest son of Hamfast and Bell Gamgee, and had many brothers and sisters. A gardener by trade, Sam seemed to be a simple Hobbit of plain speech. However, his love for Elves, his gift for poetry, and his belief that the world contained greater wonders than most hobbits were aware of (all nurtured by his tutor Bilbo Baggins) set him apart from the beginning. It was Sam who first introduced (in J.R.R. Tolkien's novels) the theme of the Elves sailing from Middle-earth, a subtle foreshadowing of Bilbo and Frodo's final journey across the sea from the Grey Havens. He lived with his father, Hamfast Gamgee, known commonly as "The Gaffer", on Bagshot Row in the Shire, close to Bag End. He had five siblings: Hamson, Halfred, Daisy, May, and Marigold.
Quest of the Ring
As "punishment" for eavesdropping on Gandalf's conversation with Frodo regarding the dangers of the One Ring, Gandalf chose Sam to be Frodo's companion on his journey to Rivendell. Sam saved Frodo's life more than once during the quest to destroy the Ring, and would accompany him all the way to Mount Doom.
After leaving Bree, Sam became very close to the pony Bill. On arrival at the Doors of Durin Bill had to be set loose as he could not pass through the Mines of Moria. This caused Sam great distress. In Lothlórien Sam was given a gift by the Lady Galadriel; a small box containing soil from her garden along with a Mallorn seed.
After Shelob attacked and seemingly killed Frodo, Sam took the Ring, intending to complete the quest on his own. Because he held the Ring for a time, he was considered one of the Ring-bearers and during the time he possessed it the Ring tempted him with visions of a great garden all for himself. Being humble, Sam never gave into the treacherous visions and temptations of the Ring, and returned it when he discovered Frodo alive in the Tower of Cirith Ungol. He and Bilbo were the only ones ever to have given up the Ring willingly, and only Sam surrendered it readily.
When Orcs took Frodo's body, Sam overheard one of them saying that Frodo was still alive, so he followed them into the Tower of Cirith Ungol, determined to rescue Frodo. Once there he found that competing bands of Uruks and Morgul Orcs had rioted and killed one another over the possession of Frodo's mithril coat, thus making it easier for Sam to get to Frodo and escape the tower with him.
Sam and Frodo made their way to Mount Doom, disguised as Orcs along the way. The way to Mount Doom was filled with fiery rocks and pillows of ash which made it almost impossible for the hobbits to pass. When Frodo collapsed from weakness, Sam carried him up the slopes of Mount Doom, only to be stopped by Gollum. Sam delayed Gollum while Frodo continued towards the Cracks of Doom. Sam then rushed to follow Frodo, only to see Frodo renounce the quest and claim the Ring as his own, putting it on his finger. Unbeknownst to Sam, Gollum had followed in his tracks, and attacked him from behind. In the moments while Sam was dazed, Gollum attacked Frodo, and after a brief struggle took the Ring by force by biting off Frodo's finger. Gollum began to celebrate regaining the Ring, but in doing so slipped and fell to his death in the fiery chasm below, destroying the Ring in the process.
The destruction of the Ring triggered a violent upheaval of Mount Doom, but with Sam's assistance, the two hobbits escaped from Sammath Naur onto the mountainside. Though they attempted to descend, the hobbits were trapped by the issue of lava and fiery ash from the mountain. Before the fire reached them, however, Gwaihir the Lord of the Great Eagles, come at the behest of Gandalf, spotted the hobbits from afar. Landroval and Meneldor, Gwaihir's companions, rescued Sam and Frodo and flew them to the safety of Ithilien.
Sam and Frodo were healed of their wounds, while still unconscious, by Aragorn upon reaching Ithilien. Sam awoke, to his surprise, to find Gandalf watching over him. Gandalf led Sam and Frodo to the Field of Cormallen, where they were met by a large crowd, who praised the hobbits in many tongues for their heroism and sacrifice. There they met also Aragorn, who revealed himself to the hobbits as the true King of Gondor and Arnor. In the following days, Frodo and Sam were reunited with the surviving members of the Fellowship, and at length, those assembled traveled to Minas Tirith for Aragorn's coronation.
Some months afterwards, Sam, along with a great company including Aragorn, Gandalf, Galadriel, and the other hobbits, left Minas Tirith, traveling towards the Shire by way of Rohan, Isengard, and Rivendell. All but Gandalf left them by the time the company reached Rivendell, and from there the four hobbits returned to the Shire. Upon reaching their native country, however, they found it to be usurped by Ruffians and unfriendly hobbits under the rule of Lotho Sackville-Baggins, who had begun the process of turning the Shire into an industrial center. Sam, Frodo, Merry, and Pippin played an instrumental role in what afterwards became known as the Scouring of the Shire, in which the Shire was freed from its ruinous occupation by Ruffians. It was also discovered that Lotho was in fact a puppet of Saruman, who had come north to play his last bit of mischief. Both met their demise in the events prior to and following the Battle of Bywater.
After the War of the Ring
Following the Scouring of the Shire, Sam married Rose (Rosie) Cotton. They had thirteen children: Elanor the Fair, Frodo, Rose, Merry, Pippin, Goldilocks, Hamfast, Daisy, Primrose, Bilbo, Ruby, Robin, and Tolman. When Frodo Baggins announced that he was leaving to the Undying Lands, west of Middle-earth, he gave Sam the Red Book of Westmarch and Bag End where he and his large personal family, later called the Gardners, would live for many years. After Will Whitfoot resigned his post as Mayor of Michel Delving, in SR 1427, Sam was elected Mayor of the Shire for seven consecutive seven-year terms.
After his wife died in the year 61 of the Fourth Age (SR 1482), Sam entrusted the Red Book to his daughter, Elanor, and left the Shire. It was a tradition handed down from Elanor that he went to the Grey Havens, and because he was also a Ring-bearer (albeit for a short time), he was allowed to pass over the Sea to be reunited with Frodo in the Undying Lands.
Tolkien took the name from Gamgee Tissue, a surgical dressing invented by a 19th century Birmingham surgeon called Joseph Sampson Gamgee. "Gamgee" became the colloquial name in Birmingham for cotton wool; Tolkien described why he had chosen that name for his character:
- "The choice of Gamgee was primarily directed by alliteration; but I did not invent it. It was caught out of childhood memory, as a comic word or name. It was in fact the name when I was small (in Birmingham) for 'cotton-wool'. (Hence the association of the Gamgees with the Cottons.) I knew nothing of its origin."
- —The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Humphrey Carpenter
It is possible that Tolkien may have subconsciously recalled Dr. Gamgee (who died in 1886 but is commemorated by a plaque at the Birmingham Medical Institute, only yards from Tolkien's childhood home) but he claimed to be genuinely surprised when, in March 1956, he received a letter from one Sam Gamgee, who had heard that his name was in The Lord of the Rings but had not read the book. Tolkien replied on March 18:
- "Dear Mr. Gamgee, it was very kind of you to write. You can imagine my astonishment when I saw your signature! I can only say, for your comfort, I hope, that the 'Sam Gamgee' of my story is a most heroic character, now widely beloved by many readers, even though his origins are rustic. So that perhaps you will not be displeased at the coincidence of the name of this imaginary character of supposedly many centuries ago being the same as yours."
- —The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. Humphrey Carpenter
He proceeded to send Mr. Gamgee a signed copy of all three volumes of the book. However, the incident sparked a nagging worry in Tolkien's mind, as he recorded in his journal:
- "For some time I lived in fear of receiving a letter signed 'S. Gollum'. That would have been more difficult to deal with."
- —Tolkien: A Biography, Humphrey Carpenter
In Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien states that the Westron form of Sam's name is Banazîr Galbasi (also spelled Galpsi). Banazîr comes from elements meaning "halfwise" or "simple"; Tolkien replaced it with Samwise, a modernization of the ancient English samwís which corresponds closely in meaning. Galbasi comes from the name of the village Galabas. The name Galabas uses the elements galab-, meaning "game", and bas-, corresponding somewhat to "-wich" or "-wick". Tolkien's English translation, Samwís Gamwich, could have come to Samwise Gamgee in modern English. Sam is also known as Perhael in Sindarin.
Many regard Sam Gamgee as the "true hero" of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien himself expressed this view in one of his letters, referring to him as the "chief hero", with special emphasis placed on Sam's "rustic love" for Rosie. The quest to destroy the Ring would have failed without Sam, who repeatedly saves Frodo from disaster (rescuing him at Cirith Ungol and carrying him up Mount Doom).
The relationship between Frodo and Sam was, in many respects, at the centre of The Lord of the Rings. To the modern reader, it seems archaic - it is clearly extremely class-oriented: Sam's humbleness and "plain speaking" is frequently emphasized in contrast to Frodo's "gentility", and he often shows deference to Frodo, calling him "Mister Frodo". At the same time, a strong bond of love and trust grows between them, portrayed most poignantly during the events of Cirith Ungol, where Sam vows to return to his (apparently) dead master, to be reunited with Frodo in death.
Tolkienologists regard Sam as Frodo's batman. In the British Army, a batman was an orderly who acted as the personal servant of an officer. It was a role with which Tolkien (who served as an Army officer in the First World War) would have been extremely familiar. Sam undertakes all of the typical roles of a batman - he runs errands for Frodo, he cooks, he transports him (or at least carries him), and he carries his luggage. Tolkien confirmed this interpretation when he wrote in a private letter that:
- "My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself"
- —J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, page 89, ed. Humphrey Carpenter.
- "Then you know that Sam was the true hero of the tale. That he faced far greater and more terrible foes than he ever should have had to face, and did so with courage. That he went alone into a black and terrible land, stormed a dark fortress, and resisted the most terrible temptation of his world for the sake of the friend that he loved. That in the end, it was his actions and his actions alone that made it possible for light to overcome darkness"
- —Sanya, offering his thoughts on Samwise Gamgee's role in The Lord of the Rings to Harry Dresden in Changes by Jim Butcher
Portrayals in adaptations
1978 and 1980 adaptations
Roddy McDowall voiced the character of Samwise Gamgee in the 1980 animated short of The Return of the King, made directly for television. In Ralph Bakshi’s animated version, originally released in 1978, Michael Scholes voiced the character.
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
In the Peter Jackson movies The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Sam was played by Sean Astin. It is not clear whether Astin had heard Nighy's radio performance, but both actors bring very similar characterizations and accents to the role.
- Victor Platt voiced the character in the 1955 BBC Radio radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
- Lou Bliss voiced the character in the 1979 The Mind's Eye radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
- Bill Nighy voiced the character in the 1981 BBC Radio serial of The Lord of the Rings.
- Edgar Hoppe voiced the character in the 1991-1992 German radio serial adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
- Jonathan Adams voiced the character in the 1992 radio series Tales from the Perilous Realm in the two episodes of "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil". Sam was portrayed with a very rustic accent.
- Stano Dančiak voiced the character in the 2001-2003 three-season Slovak radio serial adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. 
- Sam appeared as a playable character in the action adventure video games The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). These both follow Peter Jackson's movie trilogy, and were made by New Line Cinema (owned by Warner Bros.), published by Electronic Arts, and licensed by various companies such as Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony.
- Sam appeared once again in the video game The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest but as the narrator of the story of the War of the Third Age as Sam is telling the story to his children after Frodo left Middle-Earth. Sean Astin once again reprises his role as Samwise Gamgee.
- Sam also appears in minifigure form in LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game (2012). His dialogue is from the film trilogy.
- In Electronic Arts' Battle for Middle-earth strategy game series, Sam can be summoned temporarily, along with his three companions, by good factions who use the "Summon Hobbit Allies" power.
- In The Lord of the Rings Online Samwise is first found in Rivendell, preparing for the departure. Later, he is found on Cerin Amroth in Lothlórien, alongside Frodo. A series of session plays depicts Sam, Frodo and Gollum's journey through the Dead Marshes, the Pass of Cirith Ungol and Mordor. The player later meets Sam and Frodo again at the Field of Cormallen.
Sam uses a short Barrow-blade for melee combat in books, movies, and video games, but for a time after Frodo was attacked by Shelob and sent to the Tower of Cirith Ungol, Sam used Frodo's sword Sting to rescue him.
Sam can use rocks to hit opponents from a distance, however that is not their only purpose in the book (Frodo). In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (video game), he uses throwing knives instead of rocks.
- He has been determined to be a member of the ISFJ personality type.
- All of the letters in Samwise Gamgee's name have odd-numbered positions in the alphabet.
Voice dubbing actors
|Foreign Language||Voice dubbing artist|
|Japanese||Shingo Yatsuda (谷田 真吾)|
|Korean (SBS TV Edition)||Sang Bum Lee (이상범)|
|French (France)||Christophe Lemoine|
|Spanish (Latin America)||Irwin Daayán|
|Spanish (Spain)||David Jenner|
|Portuguese (Brazil) (Television/DVD)||Wendel Bezerra|
|Polish||Mieczysław Morański (1978)|
|Russian||Gennaduy Karpov (Геннадий Карпов)|
|Mandarin Chinese (China / Taiwan)||Tian Bo (田 波)|
|Cantonese Chinese (Hong Kong)||Chen Jian Hao (陳健豪)|
|Thai||Suphap Chaiwisutthikun (สุภาพ ไชยวิสุทธิกุล) (Kapook)|
Wanchai Paowiboon (วันชัย เผ่าวิบูลย์) (Channel 7)
|Arabic (MBC TV Edition)||????|
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Aragonese||Samsagaz "Sam" Gamyi|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Самўісе Гамгее|
|Bengali||স্যামওয়াইজ "স্যাম" গ্যামজি|
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||Самознай Майтапер|
|Burmese||ဆမ်ဝိုက် "ဆမ်" ဂမ်ဂျီး|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||山姆衞斯·詹吉|
|Czech||Samvěd "Sam" Křepelka|
|French||Samsagace "Sam" Gamegie (First translation)
Samsaget "Sam" Gamgie (Second translation)
|German||Samweis "Sam" Gamdschie|
|Greek||Σάμγουαιζ "Σαμ" Γκάμτζι|
|Hebrew||סמוויז "סאם" גמג'י|
|Italian||Samvise "Sam" Gamgee|
|Kazakh||Сэмуайз Гэмджи (Cyrillic) Sémwayz Gémdjï (Latin)|
|Kurdish||Samways Gamçî (Kurmanji)|
|Kyrgyz Cyrillic||Сэмвайс "Сэм" Гамги|
|Macedonian Cyrillic||Семвајз Гамџи|
|Mongolian Cyrillic||Самвайз (Сэм) Гамжи|
|Norwegian||Sam Vismann Gamgi (Werenskiold tr.)|
Samvis "Sam" Gamgod (Bugge Høverstad tr.)
|Pashto||صامویسې عامګېې ?|
|Polish||Samwise "Sam" Gamgee (Skibniewska tr.)
Samlis Gaduła (Łoziński tr.)
|Portuguese||Samwise "Sam" Gamgi (Brazil)|
|Serbian||Самwисе Гамгеe (Cyrillic) Samwise Gamgee (Latin)|
|Slovak||Samved "Sam" Mukro|
|Spanish (Spain and Latin America)||Samsagaz "Sam" Gamyi|
|Tajik Cyrillic||Самwисе Гамгее|
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||Самwісе Ґамґее|
|Uzbek||Самwисе Гамгэ (Cyrillic) Samwise Gamge (Latin)|
|The Fellowship of the Ring|
|Frodo · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Legolas · Gimli · Boromir|
|Bearers of the One Ring|
|Lord of the Rings Wiki Featured articles|
|People: Faramir · Sauron · Witch-king of Angmar · Gollum · Elrond · Frodo Baggins · Samwise Gamgee · Meriadoc Brandybuck · Peregrin Took · Gandalf · Aragorn II Elessar · Legolas · Gimli · Boromir · Galadriel · Elves · Hobbits |
Locations: Middle-earth · Gondor · Mordor · Rohan
Other: Mithril · The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game · The Fellowship of the Ring (novel) · Works inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien · The Lord of the Rings · The Lord of the Rings (1978 film) · Ainulindalë · Tolkien vs. Jackson · Tengwar · Quenya
- The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Ch. I: "The Tower of Cirith Ungol"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Ch. III: "Mount Doom"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Ch. IV: "The Field of Cormallen"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Ch. VI: "Many Partings"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Ch. VII: "The Return Journey"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Ch. VIII: "The Scouring of the Shire"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Ch. X: "The Grey Havens"
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "Later Events concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring"
- The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, In the long summary-letter sent to Milton Waldman, published in as in Letter 131.
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F: Family Trees (Hobbits), II: On Translation
- Der Herr der Ringe (hörspiel). (German: "The Lord of the Rings (radio play)". Ardapedia.org (German-language wiki of Tolkien's Legendarium). Retrieved/cited 30 May 2021.
- Pán prsteňov. (Slovak: "The Lord of the Rings) Slovak 2001-2003 radio play. Tolkien Gateway.net (English-language wiki of Tolkien's Legendarium). Retrieved/cited 30 May 2021.